Thursday, June 23, 2011

All Right, Students, Compare And Contrast

You are about to read two reports, one each on two public figures. I'll be summarizing recent news coverage on each of them, and commenting as I go along of course. Each of the two is the subject of public discussion of ethics, and possible violations of ethics codes and law. Now pay attention. There will be a short quiz at the end, and a bonus question.

First up: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. After digging around in the garbage, and talking personally with all of Anita Hill's closest friends, reporter Mike McIntire believes that he has found a smoking gun. Now mind you, this isn't about sexual harassment, we'll get to that later. But McIntire needed solid witnesses and where better to look than the people involved in his high-tech lynching? The issue, you ask? Justice Thomas has a friend (a rather wealthy one, at that) who was actively involved in funding a cultural museum in Thomas's home town of Pin Point, Georgia.

Thomas is in trouble on three counts. He has a rich friend, he comes from Pin Point, Georgia, and he supports the cultural museum. That is patently unethical, isn't it? McIntire thinks so, and devoted considerable ink to discussing it. Here's the evidence that Justice Thomas is devoid of any sense of morals and ethics. "Clarence Thomas was here [Pin Point] promoting his memoir a few years ago when he bumped into Algernon Varn." That seems innocent enough, but McIntire did his reporter's duty and dug deeper. "Varn's grandfather once ran a seafood cannery that employed Justice Thomas's mother as a crab picker."

And as if that isn't bad enough, Varn lived on the grounds of the crumbling remains of the cannery. Are you beginning to see the insidiousness of this childhood connection yet? The conspiracy between Varn and Thomas knew no bounds. In case you hadn't guessed by now, the rich friend wasn't Varn, though he's doing rather well these days. No, that's not it. Thomas inquired about the cannery property, and Varn told him that it was in pretty bad shape, but would be a great site for some sort of cultural center and revitalization of the cannery, if only he had the money to develop it. Said the sneaky Thomas, "Well, I've got a friend I'm going to put you in touch with, but he prefers not to be in the public eye." Aha! Gotcha! Thomas's friend is not only rich, but he must be a sleazy criminal [like Tony Rezko].

Well, not exactly. The rich friend is Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate magnate and, God help us all, a major contributor to Republican conservative causes. When Crow was told about the project, he offered to finance it himself, to be paid back at no interest if and when the center became self-supporting and capable of paying him back. Crow was fully aware of how successful the dilapidated Monterey Cannery Row in California had become after being revitalized, and he took a chance that a restored cannery could also support the cultural center. Well, that dirty rat!

McIntire gasps, and concludes "the project throws a spotlight on an unusual, and ethically sensitive, friendship that appears to be markedly different from those of other justices on the nation's highest court." McIntire is so sure that the whole world knows all about the friendships of the Supreme Court Justices that he doesn't explain or give any example of how this relationship is "markedly different." As far as I know, it isn't.

McIntire is on a roll now. "In several instances, news reports of Mr. Crow's largess provoked controversy and questions, adding fuel to a rising debate about Supreme Court ethics." I'm sure every Wal-Mart customer is buzzing about those news reports. I'm sure they are so well-known that universities and corporate board rooms are having fierce debates over the subject. Unfortunately, I never heard of them until now, and the only "news report" of which I'm aware is the one from McIntire.

Ya know, if there are ever any facts, evidence, proof, testimony, logic, codes, law or non-opinion to support this startling revelation, I will be on it like flies on McIntire. But until then, I guess we'll all just have to take his word for it that this is the worst Supreme Court ethical violation that nobody has ever heard of to come along in many a year.

Next up: Democratic Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida is under investigation by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics for allegations that he sexually-harassed a female staffer over a lengthy period of time (See? I told you we'd get to the juicy stuff eventually). He's also being sued by the staffer in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. In her affidavit (a declaration under penalty of perjury), Winsome Packer says: "[I received] unwelcome sexual advances, crude sexual comments and unwelcome touching by Mr. Hastings."

Before you ask, the answer is "no, I didn't make up the staffer's name to protect the innocent, or the guilty for that matter." Now we all know from our education about testimony and perjury taught by Bill Clinton that even if Hastings is guilty, it's only about sex, so it doesn't matter anyway. Everybody lies about that, we're told. But nevertheless, Hastings completely denies the charges. So, real charges of a real violation should be ignored, while incomprehensible allegations of an unknown form of ethical violation that only one reporter knows about must be taken very seriously. If you're confused, come and join me.

Now--for the quiz.

Question 1: Which of the two stories got front page headlines in the Sunday edition of The New York Times and honorable mention on CNN, MSNBC, and NBC? Discuss. Show your work.

Question 2: Which of the two personalities being discussed is black? (It's a trick question).

Question 3: Is there such a thing as karma, and is Hastings the victim of it?

Bonus Question: Name at least three mainstream outlets which discussed the Hastings story and mentioned that former federal judge Alcee Hastings earlier was charged with bribery and kickbacks totaling $150,000.00 to reduce the sentences of several mob bosses and return their seized assets. Or that he was impeached by a House vote of 413 to 3, convicted and removed by the Senate on a vote of 69 to 26, becoming only the sixth federal judge in American history to be removed from the bench by the Senate. Oh, and the Senate also found him guilty of perjury, largely because that time is wasn't about sex.


Tennessee Jed said...

A great post, Hawk. Of course, I was going to ask about the winsome Ms. Packer, but you had already intuited that. I must point out that you read the Times and BBC news so that I don't have to, so anything here is a wild as guess, but I'm willing to try:

1) McIntire's hit piece. elemetary, there is a critical S.C.O.T.U.S. vote coming up on Obamacare, natch.

2) Bill Clinton. I have heard Rush Limbaugh say he was the country's first black president. If not him, I'll go with the winsome Ms. Packer. (Unless it turns out he is actually a guy with a horrible nickname.

3) Commenterama is the only mainstream outlet that noted the information you mention.

Side question: Why hasn't McIntire been beaten to death by tea party thugs yet?

T-Rav said...

Great. I'll bet someone gets a Pulitzer out of this, for "speaking truth to power" and all that. But only for the Thomas story, of course. Were they to run the Hastings story, it would be harassment of a good man looking for forgiveness or something.

rlaWTX said...

do y'all ever just think about crawling into a cave somewhere and letting the US devolve on its own?

Unknown said...

Tennessee: I love your analytical mind. The left will be tossing charges of conflict of interest at Thomas because of his wife's activities to deflect from Kagan's clear conflict for having drafted or having approved most of the pro-Obamacare legal arguments as Solicitor General. So they're going to have to try undermining him early and often with red herrings.

I'm sure your second remark was intended to be winsome.

I saw both reports in several other places including (obviously) the NY Times. But I definitely never saw them side-by-side, and the Hill, not a left-wing site by any means, reported the Hastings investigation in some detail, but made no mention of Hastings's previous impeachment and removal from the bench.

In answer to your side question--Tea Party thugs are a bunch of sissies. We need to get them some pretty purple tee-shirts to embolden them. LOL

Unknown said...

T-Rav: Well, at least Hastings can afford to pay for legal counsel. In his impeachment and removal, he was inadvertently not barred from holding other federal offices, and the criminal case against him was dismissed when the chief mob witness against him refused to testify (and went to prison for it). So he still had the $150,000.00 in bribes to work with. And that sum was merely the money that the Senate could prove. There was much more, but it couldn't be proven to the Senate's satisfaction.

The left, of course, will eventually rally around Hastings as a victim of racism and the vast right-wing conspiracy, ignoring the fact that Justice Thomas is a whole lot blacker than ol' Alcee.

Unknown said...

rlaWTX: I'd do that, but Eric Holder has pulled a team of FBI and Border Agents just to monitor my activities. They'd know where I am, and they'd find me. I'm also told by my reliable sources that Holder has provided my information to the New Black Panthers so they will be watching my polling place. LOL

AndrewPrice said...

The left and their MSM fellow travelers have been out to destroy Clarence Thomas since day 1 because he threatens their propaganda that (1) blacks can't succeed without the government "opening doors" for them and (2) that blacks can't be Republicans. Thus, they've slandered him and made up charges against him his whole career. This falls right into that pattern.

Hasting, on the other hand, is exactly what I've come to expect from the highly corrupt Congressional Black Caucus -- a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Unknown said...

Andrew: You're absolutely right. The left has the same hatred for Thomas that they exhibited toward Bush, but it's even more hateful and much longer-lived.

I guess because they couldn't find anywhere else to stick him, the Democratic majority at the time made him the head of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is where he met Ms. Packer. I can't wait to see if former conservative writer turned leftist flack David Brock (Media Matters) will call Ms. Packer "a little bit nutty, a little bit slutty." It's been long enough that maybe nobody will notice that's the line he used originally on Anita Hill.

Tehachapi Tom said...

You clearly identified what the left leaning corrupt unethical bunch are. They are all related by comparison when you identify that flies swarm(my interpretation)on McIntire.
They do seem to have an unpleasant odor about them don't they.

Unknown said...

Tehachapi Tom: Aw, let's just say it: "MSM coverage stinks!"

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, first define "mainstream outlets." Does AOL/HuffPo count? Because I saw it there.

Unknown said...

T-Rav: I'll give you HuffPo only because they have the "cover" of AOL. Two to go, and remember it must include both the current ethics investigation and the previous impeachment and removal from the bench. The first HuffPo article I saw only mentioned the current investigation. Then, for some reason known only to Arianna, an update did include the impeachment.

No fudging, either. You can't include commenters who bring the issue up on a comment thread. In case you hadn't guessed, we control-freaks really know how to write arcane rules. LOL

How do you suppose you'll look in your new invisible Commentarama tee-shirt? Hmmm, that sounded a little like a Weiner remark, didn't it? I'll have to work on that.

Joel Farnham said...


You have me stumped. I can only think of two who would talk about both.

Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

I am also a little surprised at how far the left is reaching for some sort of "scandal". It seems to me that they have run out of steam .... and ammo.

Unknown said...

Joel: I actually meant what I call the liberal mainstream media, but I didn't specify that, so if you have Rush and Fox News pieces, they would count. One to go. LOL

It's the old tu quoque (you, too) argument that the liberals have taken to all-new heights. Rather than wait for a scandal to develop that they can point to whenever a Democrat gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar (or better yet, with his pants down), they simply create phony scandals that they can point to later (keeping them in reserve, as it were). When Kagan gets called on her intimate involvement with briefs favoring Obamacare, they will say, "Well, what about that scandal of Justice Thomas's about the cultural museum?" Theoretically, nobody will remember the "scandal," but nobody will want to admit he didn't know about it either. That way, Thomas would have one "scandal" and one "conflict-of-interest" to offset Kagan's one big and very real conflict-of-interest problem.

Unknown said...

Joel: I've published my positive view of the internet being a major influence in getting real, unvarnished information out to the public many times. My only caveat is that there's a ton of information out there, good, bad and indifferent. The beauty of the internet is that people can read as much as they can handle, then say "Ya know, that HuffPo or DailyKos article was just bullh--t. I saw no facts, no arguments, just talking points, while the conservative writers actually had facts and figures to back up most of their opinions." I think that the public's ability to root out the insane arguments of the left has come almost exclusively from the internet, since previously there was only one point of view and one set of "facts" for them to base their beliefs on. For all its flaws, Fox News has also helped the good fight.

The problem with a Thomas-like situation on the internet is that the left can simply say "remember?" while we have to go into a full discussion of the phony scandal and debunk it all over again. Sad to say, many people will see the one word "remember" and then be daunted by a lengthy article trying to explain why the memory is faulty. That said, I think Obama and the leftocrats would be in complete charge right now were it not for the internet. Instead, they are on the run.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Good point on the "remember" idea. That's one of the problems with the left controlling the media -- they create the first impression and they can create a public impression that persists no matter what the facts ultimately show. It's like accusing someone of rape -- they will always be known as a rapist thereafter, even if they are cleared.

Unknown said...

Andrew: So true. The pernicious lie or distortion is like herpes, it never really goes away. Gee, and now you've given me a chance to quote Shakespeare: "The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones."

Should I mention that I got the part of Antony in our high school production of Julius Caesar? I knew I'd be brilliant. Quoth thespian LawHawk: "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to seize Barry, not to praise him." That was nearly the end of my acting career. On the other hand, it would make a great oration for Obama. Thanks, now I feel better. LOL

T-Rav said...

Ummm...I'm going to stop playing now. Just to be on the safe side.

Unknown said...

T-Rav: Aw, be not afraid, but of good courage. What are a few rules to get in the way of a Commentarama invisible tee-shirt? And I categorically deny that I am an online pervert. But before I go on, I have to speak to my counsel. Andrew--are you listening?

In the meantime, feel free to send a picture of yourself to I promise it will be kept absolutely confidential. LOL

Unknown said...

Joel: But what about the author who asserts something the readers do believe in? Will they click on the links, or merely move on? That's how the "big lie" perpetuates itself. Your argument starts from a base point that people read both sides of the issue, which is probably truer today than in some years past. The more people say to themselves, "trust, but verify," the better off we'll all be. But we haven't entirely gotten there yet.

That said, you are absolutely right about why the Democrats so desperately want to impose "net neutrality" and the "fairness" doctrine.

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